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Cable's Clout

July 22, 2008 5:28 AM

Once upon a time, the TV biz, particularly the broadcast networks, (who at the time were called "The Big 3" - or 3-1/2, if you were the young Fox) ruled the Emmy Awards. Then, year by year, this upstart, HBO, started to command nominations and victories.

Not since the Falklands invasion has there been so serious an incursion on the status quo. There were attempts to confine cable to the Cable Ace Awards (long-gone and lamented by some). Then, the cable fraternity abandoned the Aces, feeling that it was time for Emmy recognition.

It took a few years, but if you caught the 2008 nominations recently, you can almost hear the hand-wringing going on in the broadcast camps. So many - more than ever - of the nominations went to cable nets, in scripted as well as non-scripted programming.

So... it's here. Cable networks now have not only a bigger cumulative audience and a lot more programs to attract them, but the quality graphs of broadcast and cable networks have pretty much evened out.

No surprise to some (especially if you have a few companies with “cable” in your name!) ... and expect more. Though it’s hard to define a “cable program” any longer….especially when there’s so much back-and-forth/repurposing between co-owned b’cast/cable nets.

NATPE has done a great job opening its arms to all kinds and sources of programming over the years. And, in my 30 years of attending, we’ve seen the steady growth of cable buyers patrolling the aisles or selling their wares. It’s still the only place to get all the U.S. players, of all owners and sizes, together under one roof.

Is this programming better? Is broadcast programming worse? Is it kinda more of the same? It’s always in the eyes of the beholder (translation: viewer). But if NBC/ABC/CBS/FOX/CW keep going in a direction of game shows, reality-competition, repurposed/reruns, and even if they own some of their cable competitors, look for more audience fragmentation ... and more awards to the camp that’s doing quality work, regardless of their place on the dial.

—Gary Lico, President and CEO, CABLEready, and CEO, CableU


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Comments (2)

Char Beales:

Gary -- you are so right. When business models change the disruption is chaotic. In this case, viewers win.

Cable nets created a better business model than broadcast and now it's showing. But the broadcast nets are smart and they've bought many (most?) of the indie cable nets.

Thanks for the nice plug for the ACE Awards. In truth, they were cable's leverage to get to play on the big stage and the broad airwaves -- and it worked.


I hope premium cable networks open up and start to stream some of their shows on the Internet. they have great shows but not everyone like myself will catch episodes on cable. other networks like NBC and Fox are putting their popular tv shows and popular video clips on video sites like www.hulu.com, www.zoogatv.com and www.tidaltv.com.

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